City leaders are working on strategic plans for addressing poverty and affordable housing in our community.
"I'm very proud of the hard work that we've been able to put in and where we are. I also recognize we have a lot of work to do as a community," said Mayor John Dailey.
City Commissioners are hearing updates on the 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. Part of that plan looks at poverty and affordable housing.
The City Commission has set aside $2.3 million in this year's budget for down payment assistance, affordable housing incentives and neighborhood resilience initiatives.
In 2022, they added over 2,000 affordable housing units in the pipeline, including 100 units for extremely low-income households. However, Commissioner Jack Porter doesn't think this is enough.
"The need so far surpasses that and the percent of those new units that accommodate low and extremely low-income people is miniscule, and that's where we need to be focusing our attention from now on," said Porter.
Kimball Thomas is the Director of Housing and Community Resilience. He understands the greater need for affordable housing and is ready to put plans into action this year.
"More hotel conversions coming forth, we're going to have more housing coming forth with our community land trust, we'll look at land acquisition, we'll look at rehabbing homes, preserving neighborhoods," said Thomas.
Porter believes affordable housing and poverty go hand in hand. She hopes community leaders won't lose sight of the work that still needs to be done.
"Wages are not keeping up with inflation, with the cost of housing, with the cost of goods, and we need to make a super concerted effort and not assume that just because we're meeting some of our goals, that the problem has gone away," said Porter.
Meeting goals. That's something Thomas is hoping to accomplish in order to see our community thrive.
"One of our goals is making sure that we make the most vulnerable more valuable and moving people from generational poverty to generational wealth and you do that through education, employment, housing, and making sure that they've got a great living wage job to be able to sustain it," said Thomas.
In an effort to take a better approach to solving poverty in our community, Mayor Dailey said he plans on asking the commission to have an academic study done on poverty and the 32304 zip code to help them understand where we are now and where to go from here.